NEW YORK – Food prices are on the rise. Since last year, the price of bread has gone up nearly 6%, whole chickens 7% and eggs almost 19%. This spike is making it harder than ever to economize on groceries. But don't despair. Consumer Reports has six tips to save you money at checkout:
Choose cheap stores. Not all stores are created equal. After doing a price comparison, Consumer Reports found that the following stores offered the best bargains: Aldi, Costco, Market Basket, Slater Bros., Shoppers Food Warehouse, Trader Joe's and Wal-Mart.
Get a store card. By swiping your store card you get many of the same discounts offered in the store circular and you don't even have to clip coupons.
Try store brands. Consumer Reports compared a variety of them -- including paper towels, plastic bags, french fries and yogurt -- with brand name products. It found that the store brands were the same or better in quality.
Ask for discounts. Many stores will match competitors' lower prices if you bring in a coupon as proof. To find out if a store you normally shop at is willing to bargain, check the fine print on store circulars or ask the manager.
Double-check the circular. Many of us assume that store circulars are chock-full of bargains, but some of the items aren't even on sale -- they're just being advertised. Why? Spotlighting products in this way can boost sales by as much as 500% even when items are sold at full price, says Consumer Reports.
Beware scanner error. Just because your groceries are scanned in by a machine doesn't mean they're priced correctly. In a recent survey conducted by Consumer Reports, 70% of people polled said they'd found that scanners make mistakes. Products get mislabeled on occasion, so be vigilant when checking over your receipt.
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